How to Overcome Why Leaders Won’t Delegate

In an early post, I shared that delegation is a fundamental process that makes everything flow, creating a streamlined environment that produces the best outcomes for the leader, employees, the organization and customers. If this principle is true, then why don’t more leaders practice delegation? Here are the top three reasons that continue to surface during my coaching sessions with leaders.

Delegate worker employee work being passed down people subordina


Why Leaders Won’t Delegate

1. Some leaders choose not to delegate because they just don’t know where to begin. Uncertainty of how to transition the workload causes the leader to try and accomplish more work than possible. Next, they justify the additional workload by assuming their followers workload won’t allow for additional tasks.

2. Others choose not to delegate because they are unsure of their employee’s capability. Leaders that think their followers are inadequate or incompetent do not believe others can perform the work adequately. Therefore, high expectations cause leaders to believe only they can produce the results demanded by customers.

3. Leaders also fail to delegate because they don’t have time to train employees to do the task. Constantly busy managers are a prime example of those who fit into this stereotype. They are pulled in many directions and lack the time needed to devote to proper training. Everyone suffers from this attitude, the employees, customers, and the leader. If that leader is absent, everything falls apart because no one knows how to complete the tasks needed for the organization to be part of a streamlined process.

The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels. ~Eli Broad

The good news is leaders can learn to delegate effectively? The key is to recognize the need for delegation and commit to investing the time and effort to help others develop.

7 Steps to Effective Delegation

1. Create a plan: First determine which tasks you should not be doing. Then identify how you will implement the process so that everybody has a thorough understanding of his or her new duties?

2. Think Shared Responsibility: People want to help and know that they make a difference. By sharing responsibility for success, people realize they are not alone and strive to not let the leader down. It also gives them new direction and purpose, which can create better results and increased customer service.

3. Choose the Right Person: Get to know your people. Pay attention to their abilities and willingness. When they are ready, choose someone and delegate a task that would aligns with the persons stengths. For example, you may wish to delegate tasks requiring accuracy to someone who is very detail oriented and thorough; whereas you may distribute tasks requiring support of others to an employee who is accepting and agreeable. When you match the task to the employee’s personality, the best outcome is achieved.

4. Give Authority: Ensure you delegate enough authority to enable the follower to make the decisions required to accomplish the intended results. For example, you may only want the employee to gather facts so you can make the decision all the way up to complete the task and report the outcome.

5. Checkpoints: Creating milestones gives measures to gauge success. When employees meet or surpass your set of expectations, it could be a good time to add more responsibilities or give that person a promotion. Checkpoints give the staff a chance to prove their abilities to you, as their leader.

6. Motivating Environment: There is something to be said for employees who fully invest their talents in the workplace. Reward those who go above and beyond your expectations. Recognition is a key to creating an atmosphere of teamwork. Beyond just a simple pat on the back, create tangible rewards, such as bonuses, time off, trophies or gift cards that your employees can work to earn, and that will foster an ambitious work atmosphere.

7. Accountability: Make people accountable for certain tasks. If they fail to do them, you can reassign them to the right people who are more capable of handling the tasks you choose to delegate. Accountability also spurs people to take action, rather than to leave the work for someone else. You can do this by following up with the employee to discuss lesson learned. Ensure you identify what went well and not so well so adjustments can be made if necessary.

Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.            ~Ronald Reagan

For some leaders, the thought of delegating a task cause a dilemma. They don’t know where to begin, are unsure of who is competent or can’t identify who should do the task. When faced with this quandary apply the seven steps to effective delegation to get unstuck.

Questions: Which of the three reasons listed prevent you from delegating tasks you should not be performing? How will you apply the seven steps to delegate effectively and achieve better outcomes for your employees, the organization and customers?

Why Leaders Must Delegate

While barking orders from busy managers may come to mind as your perception of delegation, there is much more to be understood about why it is such an essential skill of successful leadership. From small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, delegation is a fundamental process that makes everything fluid, creating a streamlined environment that works.

Business man pointing to transparent board with text: Delegate

Early on in my leadership journey I did not understand or appreciate the importance of delegation. As a result, I found myself trying to do everything and became exhausted. Fortunately, a mentor noticed my frustration. Based on her comments listed in the quote that follows I changed my view of delegation.

When leaders delegate they have more time to focus on the key tasks required of their position. The key is for leaders to delegate the tasks they should not be doing to those that are capable of accomplishing the work. ~Melissa Bellinger

During my time as a leader, I have discovered five additional benefits derived from delegating tasks to others.

  1. Multiply yourself: Ever wish you had more than two hands? Or “two of you?” Delegate by training certain people to perform duties that meet your expectations.
  2. Create a motivated team: Giving others small tasks make people feel part of a team. The team environment becomes a tight-knit unit that can perform duties to maximize time, enhance customer service and streamline workflow processes.
  3. Develop followers: Becoming known as a people developer means that you are giving employees valuable knowledge, skills and information that will empower them to be able to become self-sufficient.
  4. Master stress & time management: Those who try to take on too much often feel burned out and spend less time with their families or relaxing. If all you do is work, work, work… it may be time to seek help.
  5. Create opportunities for yourself and others: Why hoard all of your talents and knowledge? By investing your time and relinquishing skills to subordinates, you can develop them and grow the organization, as well.

Ultimately, effective delegation positively impacts the customer, employees and your organization. First, frustrations along with being exhausted is minimized because you no longer believe everything is your responsibility. Second, as your team becomes more self-reliant they strive for optimum performance by fully investing their talents to achieve organizational goals. Third, the customers experience quality products and services leading to more profits.

The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” ~Theodore Roosevelt

In my next post I will share with you the seven steps for effectively delegation.

Question: What benefits have you gained from effectively delegating tasks to others?